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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Tired for what, for who? ‘No chance’ of exhaustion when you play for Springboks

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There has been a legitimate concern among the Springboks’ supporters that their team might have played their “final” against France last week and won’t have the same amount of gas in the tank for England – but flank Pieter-Steph du Toit says this is not the case.

This same worry was raised when the Springboks announced an unchanged matchday-23 on Thursday for Saturday night’s Rugby World Cup semi-final at the Stade de France (9pm kick-off).

“There is no chance of that (exhaustion) happening when you play for the Springboks,” Du Toit said at a press conference in the French capital yesterday.

“On Friday morning, the coaches showed us a video of all the support we are getting from South Africa. We have seen all the clips that are on social media, which was actually quite wonderful.

“We take a lot of inspiration from seeing what the Boks mean to South Africans. And you never know when it might be your last match for the Springboks as well, especially in a Rugby World Cup.

“I don’t think a lot of us will experience it again, so to get up for this match is something that happens by itself.”

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When the Boks won the World Cup in 2019, Du Toit was named as the World Rugby Player of the Year after the final against England.

He said it will take another herculean effort tonight to subdue the fiery English once more.

“If you look at the team they have picked, it’s a very physical side,” he said.

“I read in the news as well they are going to try and take us on in our set phases, the scrum and the mauls. We’ve also seen some stuff on how they defend.”

England have indeed gone the route of making themselves rank underdogs who have their backs against the wall.

This is usually the mental space the Boks love to cultivate, but hooker Bongi Mbonambi says the Boks are not buying into it.

“We’ve heard a lot about how they are talking about revenge for 2019,” he said yesterday.

“However they see the game is up to them.

“For us, we don’t play a lot on emotions, because emotions will last you 20 minutes and you burn yourself out. I don’t think we’ve ever mentioned England as underdogs,” Mbonambi continued.

“I take it to be very disrespectful to them, to mention them as underdogs. We don’t look at ourselves as favourites.”

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A sub-plot to this semi-final is the allegation that the Boks used fictional head-knocks to bring fresh legs on in a form of rolling substitutions.

Mbonambi was one of those who went off against France for a head injury assessment (HIA).

“In regards to that, all medical protocols were followed in the game. I was feeling fine,” the Bok No 2 said.

“I think the doctor just saw a knock that I got earlier and was worried about it. I went off and the doctors checked me out, did my HIAs and all the medical protocols were followed after that.”

IOL Sport

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